Blogs across SBNation's NBA section are uniting today to discuss the "What If?" moments in their franchises' histories. And yeah, we know that anyone hopping past a Portland Trail Blazers site would expect to hear extra large tales of woe in response to that question, most of which involve centers and injuries. In fact I rolled my eyes and sighed when I heard this topic announced because, geez...we're not rehearsing all that again.
So no, forget it. For purposes of this post we're going to pretend like nothing before 2008 even exists. All decisions from 2007 or earlier were set in stone, the will of the gods, would have broken the universe as we know it had they been made differently, so don't even ask!
However, one of the current mantras running around Blazer-land is that the Blazers are in rough-ish shape because of poor drafting over the last few years. So for our "What If?" moment we're going to allow you to re-do Portland's 2008-2012 drafts, constructing your ideal team from the pieces available. No more Luke Babbittry and Nolan Smithery, you can "What If" the team of your dreams!
So here are the rules:
1. We're only replacing Portland's first-round selections. Obviously you can use a first-round pick to draft anyone selected after that pick in real life--lower first-rounder, second-rounder, even undrafted players--but we're not going to re-do Portland's second round picks as such. It would get too complicated.
2. We're counting picks the Blazers traded for but you may not make different trades than actually happened. You have to select in the spot the Blazers ended up selecting.
3. We're not re-doing the 2013 draft because C.J. McCollum hasn't even played a game yet.
4. We're ignoring cause and effect, assuming the roster today will be the same except for the departed first-rounders and your new replacements. You're adding players to a core of Aldridge, Matthews, Lopez, Mo Williams, T-Rob, McCollum, etc.
No longer on the team or in the franchise's history (unless you select them again):
Jerryd Bayless, Nicolas Batum, Victor Claver, Luke Babbitt, Elliot Williams, Nolan Smith, Damian Lillard, and Meyers Leonard
They will be replaced with the players you take with the following picks (click on each line to be taken to a listing of the draft board for each year):
The 11th and 25th picks of the 2008 NBA Draft
The 22nd pick of the 2009 NBA Draft
The 16th and 22nd picks of the 2010 NBA Draft
The 21st pick of the 2011 NBA Draft
The 6th and 11th picks of the 2012 NBA Draft
8 picks, 5 years...can you build a contender? What if?